The NHL trade deadline is about three weeks away, however, in this shortened season the race for playoff spots is tighter than ever. The number of teams who have all but given up at this the half way point of the NHL year, is relatively few. As a result we have fewer confirmed sellers right now than we normally do at this point in the year.
Earlier in the week I looked at what Columbus had available for UFA rentals. Next we looked at why injuries will really hamper Florida’s ability to sell their UFAs, and followed that up with looks at the Buffalo Sabres, the Colorado Avalanche, and the Edmonton Oilers. Today it’s on to the Washington Capitals.
The Capitals have been a major disappointment in the Eastern Conference, and with their loss to the Carolina Hurricanes sit at 10-14-1 through 25 games. This team does have talent, and the season is certainly not over yet, but things are not looking promising right now as the Capitals sit 7 points out of a playoff spot. I think even the most hardcore Capitals fan can agree that they will need to put together a significant run over the next three weeks to be a true playoff contender and not a trade deadline seller. If the standings don’t significantly change between now and the end of March the following players could be available as soon-to-be UFA Rentals.
While teams don’t always trade for just draft picks, and often will look for prospects who are closer to NHL ready, I have valued these players all on the draft pick scale, so it is easier to compare them to what is available on other teams, in my other articles.
Mike Ribeiro: Ribeiro was acquired in the off-season to be the 2nd line centre for the Capitals and boost their offence. With 28 points this season, he’s been one of the biggest bright spots for the Caps, and it will be interesting to see if they feel they should re-sign him or trade him for what they can get at the deadline. We all know Ribeiro has his warts, his past playoff performances haven’t been great, and he’s not exactly a defensive stalwart or a gritty player. But lets face it, he’s the best rental centre on the market. As we’ve seen, all the guy does is put up points. Teams are always looking to improve at centre and find a guy who can put up points and lead a line. For the reason he could command a high return and I could see the Capitals getting a First and Third Round pick for him.
Matt Hendricks: Hendricks is a versatile bottom line forward, capable of playing both centre and wing. He plays a physical and gritty brand of hockey, and has even been known to drop the gloves and fight on occasion. He’s responsible defensively and can play a regular shift averaging almost 13 minutes per game and over 2 minutes per game on the penalty kill. And extremely hard worker who leads by example, Hendricks is likely worth a 4th round pick.
Wojtek Wolski: Wojtek Wolski has always been a promising offensive player. In fact he even scored four straight seasons over 40 points, peaking with 65 points in 2009-10. However things have gone down hill quick from that great season. He put up 35 points in 2010-11 and just 12 points in 31 games in 2011-12, as he was often a healthy scratch and even spent time in the AHL. Wolski has a ton of skill, but just doesn’t have game in, game out effort level. With just 8 points in 22 games in Washington he certainly hasn’t helped his reputation and has again fallen into his bad habits of not working hard every night. Perhaps someone else will take a chance on his skill though and give up a 6th round pick for him.
Eric Fehr: A big body forward who gets to the front of the net and causes havoc when he gets there. Fehr has decent scoring instincts in tight, but not great, and is essentially a third liner. He’s held back by a lack of speed, and by having some issues in his own end of the ice. He’s also not as big a hitter as you’d like from a guy his size. Still there is value there in the right situation, and he could fetch a 4th round pick.
Tom Poti: Once thought of as a purely offensive defenceman, Tom Poti has transformed himself into a more stay at home player after suffering through various injuries that kept him out of the NHL for two years. He’s still fairly mobile and can play a shutdown role on a bottom pairing. He’s got playoff experience and this is the time of year teams are always looking for veteran playoff depth, making him worth a third round pick.
What do you guys think? Have I valued these three trade deadline rentals too high? Too low? Feel free to add your comments below.
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Photo Credit: Michael Miller, wiki commons, cc